Can You Plug in a Laptop on an Airplane?


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Plugging in a laptop on an airplane as we travel is a First World problem for sure, but no less necessary. Phones, tablets, and laptops are essential parts of the air travel experience, and fully charged batteries are an indispensable necessity.

You can plug in your laptop on an airplane, but doing so isn’t always as simple as it seems. Many airlines offer this perk only to those in upgraded seats. Airline customer reviews indicate a poor rating of the accuracy of the information about power ports provided in online reservation forums. 

The first step to eliminating the problem is anticipating it. Fully charged electronics, ready for travel, are often not given another thought; however, you’ll use up more battery life than you realize before your flight ever leaves the ground. Read on to learn more about the problems you’ll face when trying to plug in a laptop on a plane and potential solutions that can help.

The Problem With Plugging In Your Laptop on an Airplane

Imagine with me, the night before your trip: 

You have the daunting task of packing for yourself, a partner, and maybe even a pile of kiddos. You gather everything you need, trying not to forget the tiny plastic bottles of travel toiletries and chargers for all of your devices. Once you’re finished, you’ll hop into bed for some shut-eye and steel yourself for a glorious day of travel. 

Morning comes too soon, and you are out the door full steam ahead with all of your electronics, fully charged. 

The ride to the airport is uneventful, checking messages, trolling social media, and making last-minute calls. Luckily, there’s a 45-minute reprieve because the backseat passengers are blissfully watching a movie on the laptop. Hmm, 45 minutes of battery life — gone. 

Check-in is as painless as possible, you settle at your gate to wait for boarding, and as good travelers do, you prepare for an hour’s wait – another hour of battery life from the laptop, tablet, and phone. 

Your flight is on-time, and boarding was a snap; everyone is buckled up and settling in for a three-hour flight. On goes the laptop, tablet, and phone. All is well. 

The first sign of trouble happens about an hour into the flight — the low battery indicator light flashes on the laptop. Now what? 

You’re not a gazillionaire; you’re not in first class for Heaven’s sake! Unfortunately, there’s no charging port to be found. There you sit, clutching the exact right charger with the exact right cord, and no place in which to plug. 

A meltdown is only minutes away, forcing you to negotiate with your three-year-old or, worse yet, to speak with your seatmate — both scenarios — disastrous.

No Place To Plug In a Laptop on an Airplane? The Solution

Portable Power Bank. 

These simple, pocket-size lifesavers are easy to use and affordable. 

They have many names that may be more familiar to you:

  • Wireless Charger
  • Portable Charger
  • Battery Pack

Portable power bank technology was the product of Pisen Electronics Co ltd in 2001 and more widely distributed in 2004. Pisen Electronics developed early technology for an Antarctic Expedition team that needed additional battery life for their camcorders. 

Persistence Market Research reported in 2017 that the power bank market had sales of $6.3 billion and expects to exceed $13 billion by 2024. It’s time to get one or more for yourself. Which one is the question?

Before You Buy a Portable Power Bank

To determine your portable power bank needs, you first need to know your electronics and charging needs.

Create a list of your chargeable devices — cell phones, tablets, and laptops, for example. Decide which devices may need the charging-on-the-go option. From this list, you will determine the mAh capacity of the portable power bank needed.

What Is mAh, and Why Do I Care?

mAh is electronics geek-speak for milliamp-hour, a unit of measure for electricity, specifically battery, and its life. The higher the mAh, the longer the expected technical capacity. mAh is also the unit of measurement that determines which portable power bank fits your charging needs.

Your list becomes valuable and necessary to determine your charging needs. I will provide the average mAh for three popular devices in the table below. We’ll do the math together.

ITEMmAh Average
Notebook/Laptop8000 mAh
Tablet8000 mAh
Smart Phone4000 mAh (based on a list of top 10 best seller specs)

Let’s Do the Math

It’s time to get to the math of it all. 

Let’s say you have one of each of the items listed above. Use the list above as a reference to determine your charging needs. The list is simply a rounded average for each item. To determine the exact mAh for your electronics, ask Google. Type in “What is the mAh for (insert your item’s name and model).” For now, let’s use this rounded, perfectly averaged chart.

Your Items:

    8000 Laptop

    8000 Tablet

+  4000 Smart Phone

    20,000 mAh 

That’s it. That’s the number you need to know for your portable power bank. 

Let’s Go Shopping for the Perfect Portable Power Bank

Now you know your charging needs, here are some great portable power bank options from Amazon.

Rules, There Are Always Rules

Portable power banks are a great solution to your backup power needs. 

However, the FAA has a couple of rules to follow where these devices are concerned. They require that you pack your portable power banks in your carry-on bag. 

Additionally, they prefer that if you have multiple banks, you store them in a separate, smaller bag inside your carry-on. This safety measure ensures the battery terminal doesn’t contact other metals during flight for obvious reasons. 

Happy travels, and enjoy the journey.

Conclusion

Traveling is often filled with speed bumps and turbulence. It’s all part of the journey. Taking the necessary steps in advance to prepare for a fully charged experience will ease some of your stress. Portable Power Banks are the easy solution to that problem. Safe Travels and enjoy the journey.

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